“Ruthy, come with us!”
My youth churchmates were calling me to get inside the van. I didn’t know where they would go, but I heeded to their plea. Later have I known that we were heading to Cebu South Road Properties’ open space to witness Bon Odori (Japanese Summer Festival). I was in awe with the number of people, the food stalls, clothing stalls, Japanese thrift-finds, performances onstage, and other amusement that occupy the whole area. I knew that our day out will be so much fun, but I didn’t know it would also effect a significant change in my life.
While we roamed around the area to see what all the stalls can offer our eyes, I saw a stall of classy block heels, strappy sandals and pointed sandals. When I saw the sandals, I wished I can buy them all! I was so attracted with the products, I won’t mind binge-buying. Good thing I didn’t bring my wallet with me. “I’ll surely buy from them soon,” I said to myself. I asked if the seller has a Facebook page, so I can reach them whenever I have enough funds. And they do have! They even accept resellers!
Fast-forward to present, I’ve been reselling their sandals for almost a year now. My first customers were my friends and churchmates. I really want to give them a million thanks, because without them, I wouldn’t be motivated and able to continue this pursuit.
In my first year in online selling industry, I’ve met people with varying personalities from different walks of life. I’ve learned a lot from this new experience, and it also helped in molding my character. But just like other lines of work, this industry is quite challenging. I’ll share with you some of the struggles I faced while selling sandals online for a year.
1. Managing your time well.
Some online sellers set a specific meet-up time and place. They usually don’t accept buyers who can’t go to their specified time and place for meet-ups. That practice would save online sellers’ time, fare, and effort, but there would also be a tendency for them to shoo buyers. Some of them have already set a name for their business, that’s why they do that. They know they’d have buyers regardless of the time and place they set for meet-ups. They aren’t afraid to lose some buyers anymore, since they already got enough, or even more than enough.
But in my case, I set three meet-up places for my buyers to choose. With regards to the meet-up time, I depend on my availability and on the free time of my buyer. This is why I have to manage my time well. I have classes and other org commitments, so I have to see to it that every meet-up fits in my fixed schedule.
2. Waiting for your customers for hours.
It’s already a given that sellers should arrive at the meet-up place on time. Similarly, sellers should also expect that there are some buyers who arrive later than the agreed meet-up time. Some have valid reasons for being late, while some don’t. I experienced waiting for a buyer for two hours. It really made me upset especially that I have other things to do after the meet-up, and that it really wastes my time, but I have no choice but to wait since I’m the one who needs them.
3. Buyers who stand you up.
It’s bearable to wait for a buyer for hours as long as you have the assurance that they’ll show up. But there are buyers who won’t reply to your messages, and when they couldn’t take in their guilt, they’ll finally tell you that they’re sorry they can’t meet you either because their head aches, they have other appointments, or they can’t go out, among other unreasonable excuses. The first time experienced it, I just really stared at her text for minutes, as I was so shocked it did happen to me.
4. Buyers who want you to go to new places.
I have set three meet-up places for my buyers, but there are others who would demand you to go to new places, or to the exact place where they are as of the moment. The main reason why they ask for this is that they can’t go out, they’re busy with their baby, or they basically have no plans to go to your meet-up place. As a seller who’s desperate to release an item to keep the business going, I indulge to their request. There are times when I tell a buyer that I’m not familiar with the place she wants me to go, but she eagerly told me, “don’t worry, you can find your way here.” I don’t know how to react, but I was left with no choice but to concede. So if you’re planning to sell online and be very friendly to your buyers, this industry will really bring you to places.
5. Buyers who delivered-zone you.
Yes, not seen-zoned, but delivered-zone. I prefer being seen-zoned than having your message unread by a buyer, because when a buyer sees your message and just doesn’t reply, you can assume that maybe she just wants to see your items and use it for future references. With that, your effort is justified. Meanwhile, there are buyers who’ll ask you to personally send them the photos of your items, but leave your message unread. At first I feel bad that they ignored my message, but later on, I learned to ignore them.
All these struggles are part of online-selling industry’s nature. It has its advantages, but it also has its drawbacks. But just like our everyday lives, online selling isn’t always smooth-sailing. So when you decide to be an online seller, you must be ready to embrace the challenges you may face. Online sellers can only rant; but they can’t stop in the industry. Facing challenges in online-selling only tells us that it’s not easy to make money.